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Full text of "NightRider"

CHAPTER XII

THE troops came on a special train that reached the Bardsville
depot late in the afternoon. For two hours before the arrival,
a gradually increasing crowd congested the waiting-rooms
and lounged along the platforms of the depot, It was an
unusually mild afternoon for even so late in January, and
many of the men did not wear overcoats. Those who did
wear overcoats let them hang loosely unbuttoned or thrust
them jauntily back, and stood on their heels with their hands
in the pockets of their trousers. The sun shone brightly,
making the double set of tracks along the platform gleam like
burnished silver, and flashing on the wings of the white
pigeons that wove familiarly back and forth against the
blue clarity of the sky or lighted on the gravel beside the
platform to peck, with a dignified condescension, at the
grains of popcorn which people threw to them. When
the children who played along the tracks ran past them,
they scarcely noticed, not taking wing, and merely eyed the
disturbers,

A child, a little boy of some six or seven, first observed the
approaching train. He stood in the middle of the tracks, with
his right arm rigidly pointing northward, and screamed,
" The soldiers, the soldiers, the soldiers 1*' until a woman came
and drew him to the platform, and slapped him sharply on
both cheeks. She was a pale, thin, poorly dressed woman,
and when her son had ceased his screams of excitement and
only whimpered, she looked around at the nearest people and
said in an explanatory apologetic tone: " It looks like he just
will get all worked up like that and carry on. It looks like

children, the more-----" But her voice trailed off, for no one

was listening to her. Everyone was straining to see the train.
The other children had congregated on the tracks, staring

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